3 Things We Can Learn from the Apostle Who Denied Jesus

Despite Peter's denials, Jesus fully restored him, and he went on to teach others about Jesus and dedicated His life to the Lord.

Contributing Writer
Updated Mar 26, 2024
3 Things We Can Learn from the Apostle Who Denied Jesus

Many of us are familiar with the Scriptures that tell of Jesus being denied three times. This occurrence is recorded in Luke 22:54-62. Upon reflecting on this passage of Scripture, we see that Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times. Despite earlier claiming that he would never deny Jesus, Peter does exactly what he least wanted to do (Matthew 26:35). Peter denies Jesus three times and then weeps bitterly (Luke 22:62). 

Sadly, many of us are like Peter today. One second, we are saying we will die for Christ, only a few days to deny we ever knew Him. The good thing is that even though our faithfulness changes, the Lord’s faithfulness to us never does. This was true for Peter, and it is true for us as well. Many people quickly judge and condemn Peter for denying Jesus, but if we look at ourselves, we can find a little bit of Peter in all of us. 

We need to look at what happened instead of judging Peter and treating him as a traitor. Did Peter deny Jesus three times after claiming he wouldn’t ever deny the Lord? Yes, he did. However, Peter doesn’t stay in this mind frame. Instead, He returns to the Lord and repents. If anything, Peter’s faith and love for the Lord is even stronger after the denials. When Peter sees the resurrected Lord, he doesn’t doubt—he just runs to Jesus (John 21:1-8). 

Fear Can Lead to Sin

Jesus had already told Peter ahead of time that he would disown him three times before the rooster crows (Matthew 26:34). Peter says that he would never disown the Lord, yet when push came to shove, Peter disowned Jesus just as He had predicted (Luke 22:54-62). As mentioned earlier, it is best not to judge quickly. The government took Jesus on false claims after being betrayed by Judas, and Peter was scared.

Not many of us think of the people in the Bible as being people just like us, but this is a dangerous way to think. Instead of thinking the people in the Bible are somehow spiritually elite individuals, we need to see them for who they are—just flawed human beings like us. When we look at Peter, we see someone zealous to follow and serve the Lord. While he could be hasty and quick-tempered at times, he fully loved the Lord.

Peter’s three-time denial of the Lord does not mean that Peter didn’t love the Lord nor that Peter didn’t believe Jesus to be the Messiah. It was more so out of fear. In modern culture, it is common for people to think that men don’t get scared or even don’t have feelings. This is false and can be very toxic to think this way. Jesus showed emotions during His earthly life, which tells us there is nothing wrong with men showing emotion, even fear.

Peter was afraid, which is why he denied Jesus three times. His denial was not out of pride, anger, or envy. It was simply out of fear. When we see things from this perspective, we can understand Peter better. Peter was afraid, but we also see the regret when he denies the Lord the third time, and Jesus looks at him (Luke 22:61). The pain, guilt, and regret Peter would have felt on this day has probably never been equaled again. 

We Don't Deserve to be Forgiven 

Despite Peter’s three denials before the rooster crowed, the Lord reinstates him. Peter could have followed the route of Judas and put an end to things himself, but instead, he chose to turn to Jesus. This is what we all must do, too. We don’t need to run away from Jesus—we need to run toward Him. 

On the third appearance to His disciples after His resurrection, Jesus cooks His disciples breakfast. They all ate and joyfully enjoyed the food. After eating, Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15a). After this question, Peter tells Jesus that he loves Him. The Lord answers with the instruction to feed His lambs (Luke 21:15b).

A second time, the Lord asks Peter yet again if he loves Him (Luke 21:16a). Once again, Peter tells the Lord that he loves Him, and Jesus gives him the instruction to take care of His sheep (Luke 21:16b). Shortly after this, Jesus asked Peter a third time if he loves Him (Luke 21:17). At this third questioning, Peter was hurt because the Lord didn’t seem to believe Him. Peter replies to this third question by telling Jesus a third time that He loves him. At this, the Lord tells Peter once again to feed His sheep.

While many individuals would quickly read past this encounter, it would be wise to stop and pause. When we carefully look over Jesus and Peter’s encounter, we see that Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter answers yes to all of these questions. It is not a coincidence that Jesus asks Peter three times. The Lord asks Peter three times to connect it to the three denials of Peter.

Despite Peter denying Jesus three times, Jesus reinstates Peter by these three questions. Not only this, but this is a true biblical example of how redemption can happen. Jesus did not hold Peter’s denials above his head. Instead, He extended grace, mercy, and love to Peter. Within the pages of the Bible, we are never told that Jesus brought up Peter’s denials at any time. This is because Jesus knew Peter loved Him, and he was refining Peter like gold. 

God's Love is Greater Than Our Sin

With this in mind, we must also recognize the importance of turning back to Jesus in our lives. We never need to think we are too far gone for the Lord. Like Peter, you may have disowned the Lord or even betrayed Him. Know that no sin is too big for Jesus to forgive. Similar to how Jesus restores Peter, He can restore you, too. Never allow your thoughts or statements from others to cause you to think you are too far gone.

Jesus loves you just as He loves Peter. In truth, even after Judas’s betrayal, if he had repented and turned to the Lord, there is no reason to believe that Jesus would not have forgiven him. Sadly, Judas chose to take his own life. It is wiser to follow Peter’s example and turn back to Jesus rather than turn away from Him. Turning away from the Lord will only end in pain. No matter what is in your past, know that the Lord can cover it with His forgiveness. 

Peter is the one who denied Jesus three times. Despite Peter's denials, Jesus fully restored him, and he went on to teach others about Jesus and dedicated His life to the Lord. Peter isn’t perfect, but neither are we. From Peter’s denials, we can learn much if we look into the finer details. We don’t need to think of Peter badly or even condemn him because the Lord didn’t do this. Instead, we must learn from Peter’s example and display a changed heart in our lives. 

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Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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